In a interview with ACN, the boss of RCCL subsidiary Azamara, Larry Pimentel revealed his desire to add new ships to his current two-strong fleet as well as boosting its Asian itineraries.
The high-end luxury brand chief said “We are always looking at new destinations in Asia and have added many new ports in Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan to our 2015 itineraries”
He described the Asian customer base as large, interested in travel, and with great upside potential. Indeed, Asians represented “possibly the fastest growing geographic segment in the industry”.
“We see demand for Asian-based product as well as for Asian guests on existing deployments,” Pimentel said, adding: “This is underscored by the significant investment the cruise industry is making in positioning ships in Asia, developing new ports and catering to the Asian population.”
Asians, he said, were a little different in their demands from Western customers, preferring a shorter duration cruise and demanding a very different style of breakfast.
Regarding the line more generally, Larry said that he did not join RCCL subsidiary Azamara to be the president and CEO of a two-ship fleet. That is, expect this high end luxury brand to add more ships soon.
Pimentel was appointed head of Azamara Club Cruises in July 2009. He earlier served as the boss of Cunard and Seabourn.
Since its founding in 2007, Azamara – whose fleet consists of two 688-guest ships: Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest – has won many awards, but for Pimentel the line is still in lift off phase. Indeed 2014, is shaping up to be the best ever in Azamara’s seven-year history, says Pimentel.
Azamara is different from other cruise lines in two significant ways, he says. First, Azamara is a “destination immersive brand”, he says. “Most cruise lines focus on selling their hardware with the destination being secondary. Azamara is just the opposite,” he says, explaining that Azamara sells the destination first.
When he first joined the company, Pimentel was given 50 years of travel research by a colleague that works for a major travel publication. The key takeaway from the research across all of those years was that the reason people travel is to see and experience the destination.
“Most of our cruise competitors in the up-market space had new tonnage, we didn’t,” he explains. So Azamara put the focus on the destination by staying longer in port, offering overnight stays – sometimes two or three nights – and night touring.
“These are distinctive differences versus our competitors,” Pimentel stresses. In fact, Azamara stays late (8:00 PM or later) or overnight on over 50% of all port visits. And, all voyages offer at least one late night or overnight stay.
“This has resonated with our guests to such a degree that we see boutique hotels as our key competitors, not other cruise lines,” says the cruise veteran.
The second way in which Azamara differs, Pimentel claims, is in its onboard ambience.
“Guests tell us that it’s our destinations that bring them to Azamara but it’s our officers, staff and crew that bring them back,” he maintains.
“We are an inclusive brand,” he adds, “which also makes our guests more comfortable and relaxed as they don’t feel like they are being nickeled and dimed while onboard.”
Visit the Azamara Club Cruises web site here: